Eat your way through the alphabet in Duluth-SuperiorIt’s almost impossible to compile a list of great places to eat and drink in the Twin Ports and satisfy everyone’s tastes, but here's a solid A-Z start.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
I’ll admit it’s almost impossible to compile a list of great places to eat and drink in the Twin Ports and satisfy everyone’s tastes. So I came up with an A-to-Z framework and tried to fill it in as best I could with places that I actually have visited or of which I’ve heard firsthand accounts.
Because I know college kids are broke most of the time (It’s OK, you’re here to study, not get rich), I tried to include places with cheap eats or specials.
Other places are spendier, but definitely need to make it onto your feed-bucket list for the quality of the food or ambiance. If you have a campus food plan, you’ll soon find it’s nice to go outside the box now and then and splurge a little.
In the interest of space, I’ll list in some detail just one eatery per letter, with some others short-listed that are definitely worth checking out. (Not all the letters are represented here.)
And because everyone loves a road trip, some of these places can be found off the beaten tracks of Duluth or Superior.
Think of this as a starting point. Maybe you’ll find your favorite place by going through only a few letters. Maybe you can make it a challenge — like the car ride alphabet game — to visit at least one of the restaurants under each letter.
We tried to stick with non-chain places, since most people know what to expect at an Applebee’s or Buffalo Wild Wings. From chain restaurants to holes-in-the-wall, check for specials. They often offer super-cheap food-and-drink-combo specials.
A common trick for the budget-minded is to collect a list of great deals for every day of the week.
Most of the smaller cafes and restaurants offer good vegetarian options. Call ahead to be sure.
Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to ask around, and especially in the places listed below. People eating at these joints likely know where other good food is. You just have to pry that information out of them.
Amazing Grace: 394 S. Lake Ave., Canal Park, (218) 723-0075
Written on a wall in this Canal Park cafe and bakery, in the basement of the DeWitt-Seitz Building, are the words “Don’t eat bad bread.” You won’t here. Scrumptious soups and sandwiches can be found as well as a divine breakfast, all with many organic choices. It’s a chill place to hang in the evening for all ages with plenty of live music on its bills. There’s a small selection of beer and wine.
Anchor Bar: 413 Tower Ave., Superior, (715) 394-9747
Cheap, great burgers.
A & Dubs: 3131 W. Third St., Lincoln Park, (218) 624-0198
Duluth’s first drive-up for all-American fare with homemade sauces; closed during winter.
Breeze Inn: 5168 Jean Duluth Road, Duluth, (218) 525-2883
This revamped rural Duluth favorite is churning out some burgers to rival the most renowned in the Northland, all at appetizing roadhouse prices. Good beer selection as well. Head north a couple of miles up Jean Duluth Road.
Burrito Union: 1332 E. Fourth St., Duluth, (218) 728-4414
Fitger’s Brewhouse beer and tacos, all close to the University of Minnesota Duluth and the College of St. Scholastica along Chester Creek.
Chester Creek Cafe, 1902 E. Eighth St., Duluth, (218) 724-6811
Always known for its good organic breakfasts and dinners, but with prices a bit out of reach for the thrifty, the cafe now offers deals such as early-bird prices in the morning. And it just started a full-service bar. This is the near-campus spot in Duluth that you take your visiting parents to.
Canal Park Brewery, 300 Canal Park Drive, Duluth, (218) 464-4790
This nearly year-old brewpub next to Lake Superior has a view as good as the brew and chew.
Coney Island (Original), 107 E. Superior St., Duluth, (218) 727-1077
Legendary vendors of cheap dogs ($1.50 on Wednesdays) with a sneaky-good breakfast menu.
Duluth Grill, 118 S. 27th Ave. W., Lincoln Park, (218) 726-1150
This is the darling of the local and organic (and just plain good) food movement in Duluth. It’s well-deserved. This Lincoln Park fave is packed at all hours of the day but is so well staffed you never wait long for a table. You’ll spend more time deciding what to eat from the diverse menu. In the growing season, plan to spend time exploring the garden plots all around the building. Look up on the roof for the beehives.
Fitger’s Brewhouse, 600 E. Superior St., Duluth, (218) 279-2739
You could say this is where the craft beer trend began in Duluth, way ahead of its time. The funky layout (it’s part of an old brewery) makes for some interesting spaces to dine. Just as eclectic are the beers, with plenty of seasonals to keep you working to pair them with the casual American food and some vegetarian favorites. Work the meal off on the nearby Lakewalk or begin the westward trek down Superior for a local beer crawl. It has a sister bar five blocks down, Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery.
Grandma’s Saloon & Grill, 522 Lake Ave. S., Canal Park, (218) 727-4192
This is the original, opened in Canal Park in 1976. It’s a Duluth tradition for hungry tourists and a popular nighttime spot for college students with its 9-11 p.m. happy hour.
Gronk’s Grill & Bar, 4909 E. Second St., Superior, (715) 398-0333
Crazy combinations on their burgers means you’ll never have to order the same thing twice, but you’ll want to. Great daily specials, including two-for-one upside-down burgers on Wednesdays.
Hanabi, 110 N. First Ave. W., Duluth, (218) 464-4412
Duluth’s downtown sushi and Asian fusion spot with one of the prettiest bars in town. Happy hour menu runs 2:30-5:30 p.m.
House of Donuts
It no longer exists, but you’ll sound Duluth-knowledgeable when you grieve over the loss in 2005 of this awesome late-night taco and doughnut place (indeed) near Sixth Avenue on East Fourth Street. Whole Foods Co-op sits in its place today, great as food-to-go goes, but not open past 9 p.m.
JJ Astor’s, 505 W. Superior St., Duluth, (218) 722-8439
It’s on the 16th floor of the Radisson Hotel with a view that can’t be beat. And you just sit there — whether taking in a full restaurant meal, bar snacks or drink — because the glassy place rotates to offer a 360-degree view of Duluth and its environs. A spendy must-do.
Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar, 394 S. Lake Ave., (218) 722-2355
Creative food with a stress on local ingredients. Try the Deconstructed Fish & Chips. You’ve never had anything like it.
Mexico Lindo, 600 E. Superior St., Duluth, (218) 727-1978
A longtime Cloquet favorite, Lindo branched off into the Fitger’s Complex in 2010. It’s on the upper plane of the Twin Ports’ rather disappointing Mexican food choices. Take in the outdoor deck and enjoy specials all week, especially the late-night appetizers.
Mount Royal Fine Foods, 1600 Woodland Ave., Duluth, (218) 728-3665
If you know your Byerly’s or Lund’s stores in the Twin Cities area, this is Duluth’s version. Extensive deli and salad bar, close to UMD.
New Scenic Cafe, 5461 North Shore Road, Duluth Township, (218) 525-6274
Easily the best food you will sit down for in the Northland. Chef-inspired gems always are a delight for the taste buds here. Trust the combinations, no matter how foreign they may seem. It can be a costly adventure, so check the sandwiches on the back of the menu. Better yet, create a piggy bank with New Scenic written on the side in order to make the most of your visit. Try it each season, as menu items change with what’s available locally.
New London Cafe, 4721 E. Superior St., Lakeside, (218) 525-0777
Tasty Lakeside breakfast and lunch stop. With dessert from Betty’s Pies on the North Shore.
Osaka, 5115 Burning Tree Road, Duluth, (218) 727-3222
Japanese cuisine in the Burning Tree Plaza strip mall, but don’t let the environs fool you. Daily lunch and chef specials.
Pak’s Green Corner a World Cafe, 4131 Grand Ave., West Duluth, (218) 624-9999
One of the newest and best additions to the local food scene, this place is like your friendly neighborhood coffee shop but with fresh, simple foods, inspired from across the world but grounded in Asia. Do not miss this one.
Pizza Luce, 11 E. Superior, Duluth, (218) 727-7400
Get a slice of deliciousness here. A consistent pleasure to the palate. And don’t forget its breakfasts.
Red Mug, 916 Hammond Ave., Superior, (715) 392-2662
Cafe and bakery with soups and sandwiches that is a cozy place to study or play a board game. Look for music as well. Vice President Joe Biden stopped here last year on a campaign swing, so word is out.
Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake, 805 E. Superior St., (218) 728-1192
It’s like a party in your living room without the mess to clean up. This homey pub has been a student favorite for years. It has an eclectic chalkboard menu and lots of nooks to cozy into, along with an outdoor seating area perfect for people watching along Superior Street. Music throughout the week.
Taste of Saigon, 394 S. Lake Ave., Canal Park, (218) 727-1598
Vietnamese and Chinese food served fast and friendly. A Canal Park staple that pleases tourists and locals. Say hello to Hung while you’re there. He’ll tell you to “cool it.” Your response should be: “No, you cool it.”
Thirsty Pagan, 1623 Broadway, Superior, (715) 718-4433
Great pizza to kick off a Superior night.
Uncle Loui’s Cafe, 520 E. Fourth St., Duluth, (218) 727-4518
If you miss Mom’s cooking, slide into here. Probably the most popular breakfast place in Duluth. It has cheap home cooking with generous portions.
Va Bene Berarducci’s Caffe, 734 E. Superior St., Duluth, (218) 722-1518
You can build your own dish here from items in the deli case. Great modern Italian flair. And just try to resist a post-meal gelato or sorbetto.
Zen House, 4147 Haines Road, Hermantown, (218) 722-9365
Friendly service and cheap Japanese eats in Hermantown. Well worth the drive.
Zeitgeist Arts Cafe, 222 E. Superior St., Duluth, (218) 336-1360
A great addition to downtown Duluth, you can get a meal and then take in a movie or a theater show in the same complex.